Balenciaga Hypes Up 3XL Digital Sneaker Collectibles With WeChat

SHANGHAI — To create hype around its 3XL sneaker collection, Balenciaga dropped 3,220 digital collectibles, or China‘s version of NFTs, this week.

From Monday to Wednesday , followers of the Balenciaga Wechat Official account were able to snap up one of the yellow and black 3XL digital sneakers free of charge. All units of the digital collectibles were taken within hours of the release.

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The digital collectible enabled owners to secure a slot to preorder a pair of the real sneakers, priced at 8,300 renminbi, or $1,211, on WeChat Thursday.

On Chinese social media, VIP clients that were able to secure the flashy kicks ahead of the digital drop were already calling the 3XL “sneaker of the year.”

A screenshot of the 3XL <a href=digital collectible that users shared on Xiaohongshu.” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTEzODQ-/″/>

A screenshot of the 3XL digital collectible that users shared on Xiaohongshu.

The latest iteration of the 3XL trainer is a part of the controversial spring 2023 show, which was opened by Ye and followed by an ad controversy that dented sales primarily in English-speaking countries. Kering reported a 4 percent drop in its “other brands” segment for the fourth quarter, which includes Balenciaga, and flagged a “difficult” December for the French brand.

According to a brand spokesperson, three colorways from the 3XL sneaker collection initially launched in the Chinese market in mid-January, a month ahead of its global launch, and has already sold out.

Balenciaga worked with Tencent’s Zhixin Chain on minting the digital asset. The digital sneaker will live on Wudeku, a Tencent-owned digital collectibles trading mini program. The brand said it is working with Zhixin Chain on other digital collectible projects in the future.

The launch is the second time Balenciaga has worked with Tencent on a Wechat-only digital collectible project. Last December, Balenciaga tested the waters by launching 30 digital collectibles on the Chinese super-app for its Balenciaga x Adidas Triple S sneaker.

In China, where cryptocurrencies and the reselling of NFTs are forbidden, NFTs are more widely referred to as digital collectibles to avoid regulatory risks.

Last April, Burberry became the first luxury brand to work with Wechat on a digital collectible release. During the brand’s The Burberry Generation Exhibition in Chengdu, which celebrated local artists and creatives, Burberry issued more than 350 unique photographs by local artist Myron Zeng on Huanhe, a Tencent-owned platform that mints and distributes digital collectibles.

Merely four months later, Tencent shut down the one-year-old Huanhe, as the platform faced lagging sales and reckoned with a Beijing cryptocurrency crackdown.

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